Breastfeeding and Obesity in Small Children

Feeding Time
Creative Commons License photo credit: avhell

Breastfeeding can be beneficial to both you and your baby in a number of different ways, as you probably well know by now. That doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily causing your child harm if you’re unable or unwilling to breastfeed, just that there are benefits looking at. One of those benefits, according to a new study, is that breastfeeding may actually help to prevent obesity in children under the age of five.

The study, cited in the Wall Street Journal, recommends that women breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of baby’s life, and then continue breastfeeding while supplementing with food until the child reaches 12 months of age.

It also makes some rather strong recommendations – such as recommending that hospitals make no use of any kind of informational materials that may make it look like breast milk substitutes should be used, or that formula samples should not be given to moms. These are rules that the WHO has suggested before in their International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.

They offer some other advice about breastfeeding, too. For example, only breast milk should go into a bottle. No other drinks – including juice or pop – should ever go into a bottle. Cow’s milk should not be used in a bottle until after 12 months of age.

Also, moms should start with a smaller, 4 ounce bottle. When feeding the baby, make sure the bottle is being held. Don’t prop up the bottle, as this will not allow the baby to stop feeding when she’s all done.

Watch for signs that your baby is full. Don’t force your baby to finish a bottle, either.  Don’t start feeding every time baby cries; instead, try other comforting techniques first. Your baby should drink from a cup by the age of one year old, or 18 months old at the latest.

It’s thought that all of these precautions will also help with obesity for young children.

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